Wednesday, September 24, 2008


P.S. Does anyone else think that W.O. Mitchell looks creepily like Einstein? Maybe it's just me.

It only seems as if you're doing something when you worry.-Lucy Maud Montgomery

Okay, I know I haven't posted in a bit, but it's because I'm not done Looking for Anne yet (I'll probably finish tonight however). I've just been so bloody tired that by the time I get home from work I can't concentrate on reading, and all I want to do is stare mindlessly at the television. The book is super-fantastic though, and I'm really enjoying it. Irene Gammel writes in such an accessible way.

I remembered what those other books I bought were, here ya go: Enchantment: The Life of Audrey Hepburn by David Spoto, and that other book I was reading, Evening by Susan Minot. I did put Evening aside, and I very much doubt that I'm going to go back to it, it was just horrendous. Today I bought a book for Jen (can't say what it is here, because she might read before I give it to her tonight) and E=MC2: A Biography of the World's Most Famous Equation by David Bodanis. Oh ya, and on Monday I got the entire Cairo Trilogy (Palace Walk, Palace of Desire, and Sugar Street) by Naguib Mahfouz. I read Midaq Alley last spring and absolutely loved it, so I'm hoping these will be just as good.

So, Jen thought that I should blog about some news I found out this weekend. At first I wasn't sure, because I don't really like to blog about articles, etc. that I have found upsetting. But, since it's about Maud, I figured I might as well. The article was published in the Globe & Mail on Saturday, here's the link: The Heartbreaking Truth About Anne's Creator. Basically, it states that Lucy Maud Montgomery committed suicide and that the family kept it a secret. Apparently there was a suicide note (although this is up for debate now, as I've read what is claimed to be the note and I don't think she's actually writing about killing herself). Dr. Mary Rubio seems to also think it may not be a suicide note, and there is speculation that Maud may have accidentally overdosed.

I was in a state of shock when I read this, and carried around a little pang in my heart all weekend (it's still there actually). Maud's books are, and have been since I first found Anne, my refuge. I wander Green Gables with Anne, New Moon with Emily, Silver Bush with Pat, and the rest of PEI with Jane, Kilmeny, Marigold, and Sara, but most especially, the Muskokas with Valancy. Whenever I need, I have another place to go. I think that is the most upsetting part for me; Maud gave me a refuge, but she didn't have that. She has given me so much, and has had a huge impact on the person I am today, but she lived in darkness for so long.

I am very glad that we live in a society and time where depression and other mental illnesses are more open for discussion (although we still have a ways to go), and I know this is part of the reason why Kate decided to bring the story out. But there's still a part of me (that idealistic part) that would rather not have known. This revelation will never tarnish what I think of Maud and her writings, but it still makes me very sad.

I've, as anyone who follows this blog knows, been re-reading a lot of the books as of late (short stories too, although I really don't mention them here). I usually try to read all the books over again once a year, but this year was a little different. I don't usually talk about myself on this blog, but here goes. I was recently diagnosed with stage 2 cervical dysplasia (it is regressing though, so no fear!), but re-reading Maud's books over the last few months has enabled me to not think about it too much. I know I'm not dying, or anything ridiculous like that, but it is very scary, and having Maud around has let me escape, even if only for a little while. I don't want to bother or scare my friends and family with talking about it constantly, plus I don't really want to talk about it constantly either, but having Maud's books has made it easier.

Okay, enough about me! Happy Punctuation Day everyone!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

It's not me - it's you.-Matt Dunn

I spent most of Sunday reading (and finishing) The Ex-Boyfriend's Handbook by Matt Dunn, it was absolutely hilarious! I randomly came across it at the thrift store last week, and was caught by this line on the back: "You’ve let yourself go,” she says, “so I’m letting you go too.” Bah, friggin hilarious! It's basically about a guy, Edward, who comes home one day to find a note from his girlfriend of 10 years, Jane, saying that she's leaving him and going to Tibet for three months to find herself. Edward decides that he has three months to get in shape to try and win her back when she returns. What ensues is utter hilarity as Edward gets himself a trainer, diets, and tries speed dating, among other things. This novel really just shows the lengths that someone will go to for love. It's very British, and all the good things that some along with that (if you like British humour that is). The writing and style of humour are very akin to the Shopaholic (and other Sophie Kinsella) novels, and was absolutely wonderful as a funny, yet warm, read. The only thing I didn't like were some of the assumptions put on women in the book (women DO NOT just have sex with a guy in hopes that he'll be her boyfriend/marry her...ridiculous!), but for the most part assumptions of that kind were few and far between, so they can be forgiven.

I've had a crazy book-buying couple of weeks, I need to slow down, but I really can't! If I see a book at the store (thrift store/used bookstore, I can't buy every new book I want or I'd never eat) I can't just leave it there if it's a reasonable price. Yesterday, I had the day off for a doctor's appointment, so I went to a used bookstore that I love afterwards. I haven't been in awhile because they're closed on Sundays (the only day off I have in a week). I went in and the proprietor had books set aside for me (he's knows what I'm looking for). I was stunned when he had put aside a copy of Looking for Anne: How Lucy Maud Montgomery Dreamed Up a Literary Classic by Irene Gammel for me. This book only just came out a few months ago, I couldn't believe it was at the used bookstore already. It looks brand-new, like someone got it for a gift and didn't want it, I bought it of course! I also picked up three more blue Nancy Drew's (#2: The Hidden Staircase, #3: The Bungalow Mystery, and #27: The Secret of the Wooden Lady), yay!

I also stopped by the thrift store before my doctor's appointment and got The Famous Five Adventure Collection by Enid Blyton and The Tea House on Mulberry Street by Sharon Owens, I also stopped by today on my lunch break and got Leave it to Psmith by P.G. Wodehouse (and a present for Jen). Last week I bought the Matt Dunn book, About a Boy by Nick Hornby, Saturday by Ian McEwan, Nathaniel's Nutmeg or How One Man's Courage Changed the Course of History by Giles Milton, and one of the Dana Girls Mystery Stories (#2: The Secret at Lone Tree Cottage). I'm almost 100% sure that I actually bought at least one more book last week, but can't remember what it is right now.

Oh gosh, I'm literally going to have to build myself a house out of books if I keep going at this rate. Oooohhh, a house made out of books, what a "novel" idea...bahahahahaha...I know, not funny.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Your intellect may be confused, but your emotions will never lie to you.-Roger Ebert

Haven't blogged about Amsterdam yet, because frankly I'm a little loathe to do so. It was so bad. I can't even believe that it won the Man Booker Prize (although so did The English Patient and we all know how I felt about that book), I can't even really express it. While I still think that Ian McEwan has a lovely writing style, this book was basically trash; and no, I really don't think my opinion is going to change as I write like it did with On Chesil Beach. The only character who could have been the least bit interesting was already dead when the book opened, and the remaining characters were so shallow and self-absorbed that it's sickening (even now). Yes, having disagreeable characters worked in On Chesil Beach, they made the book what it was and made you want to jump into the book and tell them what's-what, but the characters in Amsterdam were beyond preposterous. I was seriously disappointed when I finished. It was just so empty and pointless, and ultimately kind of dull. While I was like WTF? towards the end, the outcome really wasn't a surprise. I know that McEwan is so much more than this, which is why I'm giving him one last shot. I've heard some really good things about Saturday, which I recently found at the thrift store, and I intend to read it. This is the best of three Mr. McEwan, right now we stand at 1-1, and I hope you don't disappoint.

I started reading Evening by Susan Minot on Sunday (on the subway, of course) after finishing Amsterdam. It was made into a movie not too long ago with some cool people like Meryl Streep, Vanessa Redgrave, etc. I saw a trailer for it and thought that it looked interesting and decided to read the book first. Really, I think I'm going to have to stop reading it. The entire novel is told in stream of consciousness (read: basically no punctuation, except for periods and the occasional comma), and it's driving me insane. It's barely discernible who's saying what since there are no quotation marks, and you really can't tell the difference between actual speech and just thought. I understand that the novel is supposed to be a swamp of memories recalled by Ann, partially hazed by cancer medication, as she lays dying, but it's ridiculous. I don't know if I can do it people.

I need to read a book that doesn't make me want to stop reading.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

I'm not afraid of storms, for I'm learning how to sail my ship.-Louisa May Alcott

I meant to blog yesterday, but really wasn't feeling well, so we blog today instead. I finished A Garland for Girls by Louisa May Alcott while on the subway Tuesday night. There's really not much to say about it. It's a collection of sweet, moral-driven stories that are all about charity, faith, and helping others. I love Louisa May Alcott, so they were a nice read; much simpler than Little Women, but very nicely told. My copy is also about a hundred years old, so there were a few nice watercolour illustrations too. Not really much else to say other than that I liked them, and that those who get why they were written will like them too, although most will find them too moralistic and maybe a bit preachy.

Now I'm reading Amsterdam by Ian McEwan. I'm finding it really hard to get into though, and I might have to put it aside in favour of something else. Maybe I'll start reading The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester. I just bought it today, and it seems really good, we'll see.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

One has to have the courage of one's pessimism.-Ian McEwan

I finished On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan on Friday, it was my first McEwan and I'm a little torn. I tried to let it sit with me over the weekend, as I did with The English Patient; on one hand I really liked it, but on the other I didn't find it to be quite as engaging as the reviews said it was. That being said (and it is rather short) I read it in about two days, so there must have been something about it that kept me reading. Maybe I just don't quite "get" McEwan yet as this is my first. I have recently bought Amsterdam and intend to read it, although some of the reviews I've read have been less than favourable.

This novel was incredibly uncomfortable, but in a good way; I think that feeling was what McEwan was trying to convey. McEwan did a great job of using both the male and female perspective by alternately telling the story from both Florence's and Edward's point-of-view, and he was able to portray Florence in a very sympathetic light; which I find is often difficult for male authors writing about women in such an intimate and scary situation (I have to give props to Jeffrey Eugenides here, because he is also fantastic at this).

Both Florence and Edward seem rather cold towards each other, but there are glimpses that they do care for one another, and are rather products of circumstance and their era. Florence was in all probability abused by her father (McEwan never comes out and says it), and Edward's mother was left "brain damaged" after an accident, which I think caused him to have a skewed view of women. Neither character discusses these things with the other, thus demonstrating they're utter lack of communication. This in the end is what tears them apart. Actually it reminded me a lot of Jane Austen, obviously different of course, but as I've said before one of the best things about Jane Austen is that mistakes can be corrected and that one isn't doomed to live by them. Unfortunately, Florence and Edward in On Chesil Beach are plagued by inaction and the things left unsaid; only later in life does Edward come to realize that it was his own inaction that placed him at his final destination, and that maybe things would have been better if he hadn't let his pride strangle his words.

Actually the more I write about this novel, the more I come to realize how brilliant it actually is. While insanely frustrating and awkward throughout, that is its beauty; you want to jump into the book and shake both Florence and Edward violently until they actually say something of consequence to the other. So in actuality, this novel is frustrating, uncomfortable, and awkward, BUT ALSO brilliant, haunting, and heartbreaking. It's really quite tragic.

Alright Mr. McEwan, you win this round.